The Future of transit in Raleigh

As for trackless trams… those have existed for a hundred years. They’re called ‘trolley buses’, and that can actually be a solid system. The problem with those is that the overhead wires are ugly, though that problem has gotten less bad with modern designs.

I would be totally in favor of making the BRT system electric trolleybuses as well. I think that is a major ingredient that BRT systems are missing.

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Took this picture when arriving in Warsaw Poland. Was a bit surprised at all that was going on, the lanes of car traffic, buses, rail and bike lanes in between rail lines all going into downtown. All complementing and not competing.



Oh I was trying to be generous by ignoring trolleys in the first place :joy: y’know. In the spirit of the pretty pictures @Garciavic had in mind.

But trolleys (if you don’t count trackless trams as one) still need to be driven instead of just being operated along a predefined track. This means you get all the infrastructure problems of trams/trains like having to install electrical wires or getting physically disconnected from a power source. …but you don’t the improvements in ride quality (when’s the last time you felt the brakes being slammed on a train?) and better stations (e.g. how level will your vehicle be to the platform?).

The overhead wires are definitely less awful to look at these days -but it doesn’t change the fact that they’re potential safety issues. And with our allergy to commercial vehicle height restrictions and winter weather-related power outages around here… I can’t say I’d trust a GoRaleigh/GoTriangle trolley system unless they really get the engineering right.

@softfurrykitty gotta love Warsaw Pact countries and how they got some things right (like not buying into cars as a symbol of “freedom”) lol.


Lol, I get it but here public transport won’t get you past a tank of gas in car, for now. Freedom only goes a short distance on public trans here.

Meanwhile in Luxemburg


Awesome! Now, it’s been almost a year, how has it gone? Anyone have the to check?

It is most definitely NOT free. Their high tax rate pays for it.


Free as in roads and most highways are ‘free’ here.


Luxembourg also has about the same total population as Raleigh and Cary combined. And very few of them are poor. It is actually a fairly rural country and is about the size of Rhode Island

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Public transit was already very cheap in Luxembourg. They have some incentive to make it free, since it relies on tourism from neighboring countries. Bringing in more tourists that spend money elsewhere in the country is an investment.

Buses are free in Chapel Hill, and that system works pretty well. It can certainly be done here. I took the bus to work at UNC for many years, and I’ve resented the commute to RTP ever since switching jobs.


Interesting way to cut car use, imporve transit use, and rise money for transportation projects.


Apologies if someone already shared this and I missed it, but pretty relevant to this feed:


The third point, Never Trust Duke, seems the most important to this Tar Heel. #goheels :ram:


Thanks. It’s a good read. Looks like BRT may be all we get for now. That one is in the hands of Raleigh which, though new at major transit capital investments, does have experience bidding and managing other big capital projects, from roads and greenways, to sewers and water lines, to parks and buildings- and certainly has the chops to pull it off.


As for the commuter rail, it sounds like GoTriangle will need to rebuild its organization before moving forward. So I would expect a delay. But I do have reason to be more optimistic about this than the light rail project. There is one major stakeholder here, overwhelmingly larger than the rest: NCRR. In the past two failed projects, they were tough negotiators, but from what I can tell, they negotiated in good faith with an eye toward actually working out the problems.

In this case, however, there is reason to believe that things will be a little smoother.

  1. Rather than adding an extra incompatible system taking up some of the NCRR right of way, with NCRR gaining only the lease payments in return, the commuter rail project will actually be constructing improvements to the NCRR’s physical plant itself.
  2. As tough of a negotiator as they were for the 2005 project, TTA did eventually reach an agreement with both them and Norfolk Southern.
  3. Serving passenger trains is in their charter. It is explicitly spelled out as one of the expectations of its sole shareholder, the state of NC.
  4. Last but not least, about a decade ago, in the wake of the collapse of the regional rail DMU plan, they committed some of their own money toward a capacity and ridership study of commuter rail on their corridor. Why would they study it themselves if they don’t view commuter rail as essentially one of their duties?

Come to think of it maybe the correct response is for GoTriangles role to change. Of course, all the legislation that provides funding for regional transit in terms of the sales tax, rental car tax, vehicle registration fee, etc. is written to channel the money to this specific organization with its specific governance structure - so it can’t just… go away without rewriting all that legislation, during which time those funding sources would also be in jeopardy. They can retain their role as a planner and coordinator, making sure the regional transit agencies work together to form a coherent transit network. They can also retain their role as an operator of regional transit services, since they seem fairly competent at that.

Given their poor track record at implementing capital projects, though, maybe that role should pass from their hands. Once a regional transit plan is complete, and it’s time to move into project development and execution, they should hand it over to another agency. This is what they’ve done for the BRT in Raleigh, and so far it seems to be going well enough.

For commuter rail, NCRR and especially NCDOT rail both have a reputation for quiet competence implementing capital projects, sometimes very large ones involving competitive federal grant programs (Think of the ~$600 million ARRA grant for high speed rail!) In this case, GoTriangle takes on the role of a stakeholder rather than the primary administrator of the project. It provides the money, sets the service level, has input in the route and stations, etc - but the execution itself belongs to an agency with more of a proven track record.


I’ve said this many times before, but the NCRR has got a large want list for infrastructure upgrades. Particularly, the need to seal the corridor as part of the larger high-speed rail corridor. With that, there is a likely progression towards double-tracking more of the line between Raleigh and Greensboro.

But, they’re limping by like every other transportation system. And, with all of the doom and gloom coming from the carriers with their decreased carloads - particularly coal as more power systems are going to LNG or solar, there’s not going to be a lot of cash running around.

So, we gotta be patient and hope that someday there will be some more money spigots open for sequential upgrades like the last round of funding which has just completed.


Money from the GoTriangle sales tax and FTA new starts for a commuter rail project seems like it could be exactly the sort of spigot you’re talking about.

NCRR has got to be aware of this. Unlike DOLRT, this project wants to improve the NCRR, not just build stuff on their land. If revenue from freight is down, it seems logical for them to pursue passenger traffic.

I’d really like to see this commuter rail line considered as a piece in the statewide passenger rail puzzle, rather than as an island into itself. Commuter/local service could make sense along the entire Piedmont segment of the NCRR, and envisioning our commuter rail project as a part of that cohesive whole, can only make the case stronger, and helps to make the case for this being a project of statewide importance, not just local interest…


I’m left to wonder how slow things are moving. GoTriangle published their Major Investment Study on this project back in 05/2019. And, in it, there were assumptions that DO/LRT was going to be operating in the same corridor. So, it goes to press already saying that their modeling is going to be off. And, that there will need to be more time to revise their estimates taking that change into consideration.

But, then, there’s a teaser stating that while waiting for this revision to be published in the new feasibility study, Mebane and Selma are wanting in on the project with an expectation of an update by ‘late 2019.’

Frustratingly slow, I know, but it’s been pretty typical for these kinds of studies that I’ve seen in watching this stuff move over the past 25 years.


Just got a heads up from my contact at Jones Street. The NCRR is moving forward in their conversations with GoTriangle regarding the commuter rail system. That being said, it is proceeding in the phased manner as we’ve been seeing. BRT first, then commuter rail second. So, we’ll just have to be patient. I don’t have any more details than that.